Olivia Darknell returns from Blue Lake choral tour of Europe
BALDWIN — Olivia Darknell, who will be a senior at Baldwin High School, recently lived one of her dreams — singing in Europe during a three-week Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp International Choir Tour.
“I really enjoyed my time,” said Darknell, who sings soprano in the Baldwin High School Choir.
This past spring, the community raised money for Darknell to sing in the tour after she learned she was selected by Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp to participate.
In Europe, the choir gave 16 performances at eight locations in Belgium, Italy, Germany and France. Darknell stayed with a different host family every three days.
“Everyone spoke pretty good English in the homes I stayed,” she said, noting Belgium was her favorite stop in the tour.
“Belgium was nice because it had a good mix of city and country and they had the best pizza,” she said.
Other highlights were trying on traditional German dresses, learning about other cultures and trying different food. She got to hike a mountain in the Alps and got to see old towns, castles and a walled city in Italy.
“I got to play soccor with Italians. They were way better than us,” she said, adding how the World Cup was in progress during her stay, and how emotional people felt if their country didn’t fare well during the competition.
She also noted the differences in restrooms.
“I walked into one of the restrooms and there was a hole in the floor,” she said. “I waited until I could find a normal toilet. In most of the places I stayed, I found it strange that there were separate rooms for bathrooms — there was one room for the toilet, one for the sink and bathtub and another for a shower.”
She returned home with a souvenir of a German newspaper article featuring their choir performance, given to her by her host family.
Darknell’s mother, Cinda Heighton, is happy to have her home.
“We had so much support from our community, such as Jim Truxton, and others who generously donated money,” she said. “The Baldwin Congregational Church helped with fundraisers. I want everyone to know Olivia really appreciated their support. She came back from Europe more cultured and mature. She had to be responsible for her own passport and spending money.”